Ealing Trailfinders 57 Doncaster Knights 14: Heavy defeat and more injury agony for Knights against big spenders
Injury-hit Doncaster Knights crashed to their heaviest Championship defeat of the season as second-placed Ealing Trailfinders posted a 57-14 win at Vallis Way.
The big-spending home side took full advantage of Knights injury problems when running in eight tries to maintain the pressure on unbeaten leaders Bristol.
The club’s injury situation going into the game - not helped by injuries during it to centre Charlie Foley, above, and record points scorer Dougie Flockhart - was an important factor in the size of the defeat.
But Knights again contributed to their own downfall in terms of penalties conceded, handling errors and missed tackles.
Knights fell behind after just three minutes when Ealing full-back Luke Daniels kicked a penalty.
Knights, who had several players on debut including dual-registered Newcastle full-back Cameron Cowell, hit back four minutes later to lead for the only time in the game.
Cowell produced a pin-point grubber-kick which saw Foley, switched back to centre after donning the No 15 shirt against Bedford, touch down for the first try of the game.
Wing Flockhart added the extras to make it 7-3.
Unbeaten at home this season, Ealing regained the lead on 13 when hooker Alun Walker touched down from a forward drive. Daniels tagged on the conversion to make it 10-7 during a period when Knights conceded a string of penalties.
Knights, who had lost Foley, conceded two further tries in quick succession and found themselves trailing 24-7 early in the second quarter.
Cowell did well to deny Ealing another try after wing James Cordy Redden had intercepted a pass five metres from his own line and raced away prior to kicking ahead.
Knights continued to both make and be punished for their mistakes with another missed tackle leading to a fourth converted try shortly before half-time to make it 31-7.
The home side again turned defence into attack after they hit Knights, who had lost possession on the floor within sight of the Ealing line, with a try on the counter
Knights suffered another setback when Flockhart, playing only his second game of the season, came off with an arm injury in the 50th minute with the score standing at 38-7.
Lost possession in the middle of the field led to a sixth converted try scored by flanker Rayn Smid.
Whereas most sides in their position would probably have thrown in the towel that is not in Knights’ DNA.
They closed the gap in the 70th minute when Cowell showed good footwork to score a try converted by Simon Humberstone - after replacement scrum-half Michael Heaney fed him from a driving maul.
Daniels took his personal tally to 22 points when he charged down a chip by Hayes, as Knights looked to break out of their own 22, and also kicked a seventh conversion to make it 52-14.
The home side were in again a couple of minutes later – Smid bagging a second after the tiring Doncaster pack had been pushed off their own ball.
Knights: Cowell, Flockhart, Foley, Hayes, Wilson, Cusack, James; Evans, Langdon, Sproston, Challinor, Eames, Shaw, Hills, Hill. Replacements: Hunter, Bergmanas, Quigley, Priestley-Nangle, J Bulumakau, Heaney, Humberstone.